Lionel Trilling 1905–1975
American critic, novelist, short story writer, and editor.
Trilling has had a significant influence on the American literary world. As an educator he was associated with Columbia University for over forty years; as an editor and essayist he was an influential contributor to Partisan Review and The Ken-you Review; as a critic-biographer he placed Matthew Arnold, E. M. Forster, and Sigmund Freud in the liberal-humanist tradition which inspired his own work.
Trilling examined the influences of philosophy, sociology, history, and psychology on works of art. A cautious liberal, he refrained from adopting any specific ideology but had a continuing interest in the study of "the existence of the self apart from culture." It was Freud, Trilling felt, who dealt most effectively with this issue. As a result, Trilling placed significant emphasis on psychoanalysis in his critical writings. In addition, he maintained that the creation of the work of art frees the individual from the "tyranny of culture in the environmental sense."
(See also CLC, Vols. 9, 11 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 9-12, rev. ed., Vols. 61-64 [obituary].)